by Ralph Ferrusi , Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post and SLIDE SHOW
Hike name: Long Path, Route 6 to Howell Mountain.
Location: Harriman State Park.
Length: About 5 miles round-trip.
Rating: Some cruisin’, some a killer. Some flat, some steep.
Dogs: Fido might not be too happy on some of the steeps, and with some of the rocks. You won’t be, either.
Maps: New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) Harriman Bear Mountain Trails mapset, Map 119, Northern Harriman Bear Mountain Trails; New York Walk Book, Map 6; Long Path Guide.
Features: A good sampler of New York State’s 347-mile George Washington Bridge-to-Albany Long Path — the good, the bad and the ugly of it.
Watch out for: Most of the aqua 2-by-3-inch blazes were pretty good, but every once in while things got a little vague — stay alert. And the trail through open woods was … well, open, but things were pretty much overgrown in the un-open woods; do a thorough tick check when you get home. Parts of this trail could use a really stiff “unnecessary steepness” — and unnecessarily rocky — penalty. Hey, come on, folks!
Background: Back in the ’30s — think about it, 80 years ago! — Vincent and Paul Schaefer “conceived the idea of the Long Path … as New York’s version of the Long Trail in Vermont.” But they added their own twist: The “trail” would consist of an unmarked route, “linking points of interest.” It was named after “The Long Brown Path,” a weekly New York Post column written by Raymond Torrey, one of the founders of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
Construction began in the 1930s. To put this in perspective, the Appalachian Trail (AT) was a gleam in Benton MacKaye’s eye in 1922, and was a wrap in 1937. Energy faded after Torrey’s death in 1938, until Robert Jessen and Michael Warren picked up the ball in the ’60s, when much of the now-marked currently existing trail was built. It’s still a work in progress, and there’s hope one day it will extend through the Adirondacks to the Canadian border.
The Long Path and I go back quite a ways. After I’d completed the then-2,048-mile AT in the mid-’70s, and Vermont’s 262-mile Long Trail (LT) shortly thereafter, well, whoop-dee-doo — there was the Long Path, practically in my backyard. The trail, and information concerning it, were both pretty basic back then. Parts of the trail were downright awful, particularly in comparison to the fine-tuned AT and LT I was pretty much a pioneer. Walt Houk, then-president of the NYNJTC, provided me with USGS topo maps, and I slugged away, section by section. I finally reached the then-northern terminus at Route 23A, by Windham, and figured I was end-to-ender No. 1. Not so; I was informed that “two brothers” had beaten me to it. So it goes …
Hike description: The first couple of hundred yards are wide, smooth and flat, through open woods. Don’t let this fool you. Whoops, you’ll soon be descending slightly on a worn-out, rocky old woods road, and you’ll be glad you brought your trekking poles. At four-tenths of a mile, pass the Popolopen Gorge Trail heading to Turkey Hill Lake on the right, then climb “steeply over ledges to the summit of Long Mountain,” with its memorial to Raymond H. Torrey and 360-degree views.
The mostly rocks switchbacks down to Deep Hollow Brook would never pass muster on the southern AT; nor would the ultra-steep section of trail heading up Howell Mountain. Go about a quarter-mile beyond the apparent summit to the promised west-facing viewpoint.
How to get there: Route 9D south. Cross the Bear Mountain Bridge. Right onto Route 6 at the traffic circle. Right to parking a little over a mile after the Long Mountain traffic circle.